Martin Honert, Schlafsaal, 2009.
Martin Honert is number 21 of the Bloomberg Space ongoing Comma project, launched in 2009 with the intention of showcasing thirty of the most outstanding and established international artists. The programme is curated by Sacha Craddock (the chair of New Contemporaries and an ex Turner Prize judge) and Vanessa Desclaux (a critic who has writes for a number of publications, but you may recognise her from A:N). It is fast paced, with each show lasting only a few weeks. I can't claim to have seen every one, but I've seen a fair few and Honert's show successfully maintains the high standards of this successful series.
The stand-out work here is without a doubt Schlafsaal, a segmented stage of ghostly radiance. It is a Catholic boys' school dormitory, reconstituted from the artist's memory with help of some nifty design software. Its somehow reminiscent of a T.A.R.D.I.S in mid spacial flux; seemingly built from alien light and pure nostalgia. This discombobulation is in part due to the reversing of colour relations that has gone on here- light is represented in negative, so that what was once shadow is now aglow. The result is installation that celebrates the ephemeral and recalls the classic science fiction of 2001 and Close Encounters et al. It is imbued with the artist's memory to the point that one half expects to hear the stifled laughter of small boys as they enjoy their Mitternachtfest, or midnight feast, which is also a work that features in the show.
It is this act of remembering, or mis-remembering, which drives Honert's work. In a video in the rear gallery space, schoolchildren stand in a tiered formation, rigid for the frame. Medicine balls of red and black leather, of different sizes and states are arranged on the floor in the same area. There is something touching and almost a little desperate about this struggle to recall and reconstruct the objects and images of the past. When transferred from the delicate cradle of memory to the great white room of the gallery, these works seem to dissolve, dissipating like the tired thoughts of someone waking from a long sleep.